Private arms maker PT Sari Bahana has made its first export of warheads to Chile after winning a bid contested by firms from 43 nations.
The company, based in Malang, East Java, will sell 70 millimeter smoke warheads to Chilean state-owned firearms maker FAMAE.
Sari Bahari president director Ricky Hendri Egam told The Jakarta Post on Monday that the export offered proof that Indonesian products could compete overseas.
The firm would export 260 warheads to Chile, Ricky said, declining to reveal the value of the contract.
Ricky said that the order might be followed by orders for warheads in the thousands if the Chilean military was satisfied with the initial shipment.
The locally made smoke warheads had an excellent aerodynamics trajectory and could emit smoke for two minutes after striking a target, while similar products from other countries could emit smoke for less than a minute, Ricky said.
Smoke warheads are typically used by attack or bomber aircraft crews to ensure that they have hit their targets. Quickly disappearing smoking stymies attempts to measure attack accuracy.
The Indonesian Military (TNI) has used domestically made smoke warheads since the early 2000s.
Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry’s defense potentials director, Pos M. Hutabarat, said that Sari Bahari’s success was a proud moment for the nation, offering proof that the government was serious in allowing the private sector to help the nation to independent in weapon systems.
About half of this year’s defense budget of Rp 82 trillion (US$8.42 billion) has been allocated for personnel, 20 percent for maintenance and 30 percent for weapon systems procurement.
“Currently we are buying 75 percent of our weapons abroad, while the remaining 25 percent are bought at home,” Pos told reporters. “It may need 15 to 20 years to shift this composition.”
In addition to Sari Bahari which was established in 1993, Pos praised private defense firms PT Palindo in Batam, Riau Islands and Lundin in Banyuwangi, East Java, which produce ships for the Indonesian Navy, such as the Lundin-made KRI Klewang-625 fast missile-carrying boat, which was burned almost to the waterline in September.
Pos said that he expected that Sari Bahari could export its wares to other South American countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Peru or Venezuela.
Military observer Muhadjir Effendy agreed with Pos, saying that those nations were potential markets for Sari Bahari as they were buying more weapon systems.
“Venezuela is the best potential market, because its defense procurement reaches $22 billion,” Muhadjir, who is also rector of the Malang Muhammadiyah University, said.
Muhadjir said that honoring transfer of technology (ToT) requests from buyers was acceptable, as long as the companies filtered which technology could be transferred and which should be retained. “Indonesia once received a ToT for PT Dirgantara Indonesia to make parts and components for F-16 when we bought the jet fighters,” he said.
Ricky said that his company received the first export license ever issued by the Defense Potentials Directorate General on March 6.
In addition to the smoke warheads, Sari Bahari produces live and training P-100 bombs, P-25 training bombs, warheads and folding fins for the 70mm folding-fin aerial rocket (FFAR), 70mm FFAR pod and a stand gun mounting for 5.56mm to 12.7mm rifles.